I'm delighted to be the final stop on the 'Last Whale' book blog tour. This extraordinary story for the higher end of middle-grade and teens is one of my books of the year. Below is my full review. Click here for an exclusive Q&A with author Chris Vick too.
I've really had to have some time to process and get my thoughts together after reading 'The Last Whale'. It is one of those rare books that demands your attention in every way: emotionally, intellectually, philosophically. 'The Last Whale' is riveting, powerful and poetic; with writing that sings, informs and alarms. With Cop27 occurring next week, this book feels important in its historical and speculative examination of humanity's impact on nature, particularly on the oceans. The narrative spans the generations, showing one family's direct impact on the oceans, from hunting for whales to trying to save them. Chris Vick doesn't hold back: at points this is stark and brutal in its verdict on humanity's course, but it also points to solutions and offers us hope in spite of serious challenges.
Arguably the book's protagonist is a benevolent AI, who grows with the family into the future, offering insights about the effects and possible solutions of climate change. How can technology help or even surpass humanity? The ambitiously imaginative scope of this, to my mind, is on a par with adult writers such as David Mitchell. I couldn't help but compare it to a book, say, like 'Cloud Atlas' with its huge cross-generational narrative and feeling of time, change and collective responsibility. 'The Last Whale' is challenging, thought-provoking and emotionally charged in all the best ways.
There is so much I learned about how important whales and other creatures are to their oceans and therefore the ecosystems of the planet - it has made me want to know more and also take some small action myself. I'm sure older children and teens will be compelled to do the same. But, even as Chris Vick has said himself in the Q&A, this is a book that demands the reader to draw their own conclusions. At its heart, 'The Last Whale' is simply hugely enjoyable and inspiring, taking you on a journey that confounds, surprises and stirs. It is impossible to ignore, impossible to put down. And it is one of my favourite books of 2022.
Thank you to Camilla Leask and Zephyr Books for including me on this blog tour and for a copy of the book to review.